In his short stint with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Israel Adesanya has proven to be one of the better strikers in its Middleweight division, which has plenty to do with his professional kickboxing background. As he gears up for the biggest fight of his mixed martial arts (MMA) career — a title unification bout against division champion, Robert Whittaker — “The Last Stylebender” is confident he can pick apart the champ without resistance.
“He’s a guy I can pick apart easily,” Adesanya told reporters during a UFC 243 conference call (via MMA Junkie). “A challenge I haven’t faced before? I don’t think so. He just does what he does very well. There’s only a certain amount of awkwardness that he has that I haven’t seen before, but he can try to prove me wrong. From what I see, though, I’ll pick him apart quite easily.”
Of course, “The Reaper” only has one knockout loss on his record, getting stopped via strikes by Stephen Thompson in a Welterweight bout back in 2014. Since then, Whittaker has taken on the best UFC has to offer en-route to winning the 185-pound strap, including back-to-back wins over hard-hitting monster, Yoel Romero.
Still, Adesanya separates himself from everyone “Bobby Knuckles” has faced before him, saying his style and skillset will be the determining factor.
“I have these attributes that I use very well, and I think what his camp might look at the last fight and think when Kelvin was able to get close,” Adesanya said. “That was just an error on our part and a good gameplan on their part. But we’ve taken care of those errors. I’m going to be able to use my height and reach like I always have.”
Indeed, Adesanya usually towers over his opponents, but Whittaker is as seasoned as they come and won’t let height and reach advantages take him out of his game. Since Nov. 2016, however, Whittaker has been unable to compete as often as he’d like, fighting only four times because of numerous injuries and setbacks.
Should Adesanya win the undisputed title, he vows to be a more active champion.
“As a champion, I’ll be a lot more active as a champion than he’s been, and I’ll be a lot more active,” Adesanya said. “Maybe not at the beginning because of timing and everything else, but I’ll be an active champion.”
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